by Hirva Raj, Regional Sales Manager for Texas, Ellevation
Over the last three years, I have found that Texas districts with more than 300 ELs truly benefit from an electronic LPAC solution. It has been a joy to see districts make shifts from the world of paper into adopting software to better meet the needs of administrators, teachers, and students. (Not to mention seeing how much paper is being saved by digitizing the LPAC process through software.) The joys of working with dozens of districts across Texas include hearing about all the time savings and efficiencies created by adopting an electronic software solution.
If you work in a school district in Texas, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about our state’s unique process around ESL compliance. Texas Administrative Code §89.1201 provides rules for all school districts to follow around English as a second language (ESL) and/or bilingual education programs. Subchapter §89.1220, defines all the duties and requirements for the LPAC (Language Proficiency Assessment Committee). The LPAC consists of a series of decisions around every English learner. Everything from the program placement to designated testing accommodations to reclassification to post-exit monitoring are all carefully decided and documented by an LPAC committee.
Each LPAC meeting requires a variety of data points in order to make decisions. Data points may include TELPAS ratings, STAAR scores, Las Links scores, writing samples, teacher recommendations, interim benchmark assessments, course grades, and many more. The process of gathering all of the information for each student is painstaking! Data is required prior to the meeting, and depending on the number of ELs at your school, this can determine the amount of hours, days, or weeks spent fulfilling EL compliance requirements.
Given the ongoing pandemic, school districts will be facing uncertain times ahead. Our key advice to administrators and Bilingual/ESL coordinators is this: be proactive. If you work in a school leadership capacity, we all know there are a lot of moving parts at the moment. Setting up your district with processes to ensure your system of compliance remains intact is critical, especially due to uncertainties around our future working environment. So, what should you do?
One process that can be helpful is to use an electronic solution for your LPACs. Spend less time chasing papers, creating hundreds of folders, and using non-FERPA solutions to gather student data in order to start the process of holding your LPAC meetings. Not only have you eliminated the pain of gathering paperwork, but you are providing a secure data solution so more time can be spent making best instructional decisions for ELs.
Working at Ellevation, we found an “average” educator, based on a work week of 7.5 hours per day and 37.5 weeks per year, would save over 90 hours in the school year using Ellevation. That is more than 12 work days! Let us not forget the additional data security, reassurance of being TEA compliant, and increased transparency for all those that support our multilingual learners. We are finally in the era when teachers seamlessly fill out forms electronically and are provided with data tools to better serve their students.
Districts are used to adopting software tools to improve processes. However, having software that supports processes and instructional best practices is a game changer. It enables districts to create a way to streamline your compliance to make it easier for educators in your district to spend less time with paperwork and more time planning language strategies to support all students.
At Ellevation we have worked with some of the greatest authors and advisors in the field, all of whom understand the importance of data and language acquisition. This input from experts in our field such as Tim Boals, Jeff Zweirs, David Holbrook, Dr. Jose Medina, John Seidlitz, and Dr. Sonia Soltero, has helped us understand how to best solidify the connection between compliance and best instructional practices.
In short, we need to ensure that what we do for compliance:
- is insightful and provides an instructional lens,
- provides strategies to facilitate student learning, and
- creates a realistic lesson implementation.
Educating students is a complicated process, and compliance requirements can make this process even more difficult. Identifying and serving English learners is critically important, yet the administrative and paperwork burdens monopolize valuable time and resources. Utilizing a compliance platform like Ellevation can ease many of the worries around your district processes, spending less time on administrative work and more on supporting your students and teachers.